After tendering the work to construct the Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema Mother and Child Hospital twice, the health ministry yesterday re-tendered the work for the third time.

The work involves construction of an obstetrics and paediatric building (Package II) worth about Nu 1B, one of the largest contracts floated to local contractors.

The first tender was cancelled, as the government could not arrange the fund. Health secretary Dr Ugen Dophu said that the finance ministry construed the two packages as separate works and the budget was not approved. “But it was the same project and the approval came later,” he said.

As per the tender norms, he said that all formalities must be completed in certain time and the bank guarantee that the contractors availed is valid for only 10 days. In the process, the tender expired and re-tendering was conducted in April. One contractor was awarded the work after a re-tender.

However, few contractors raised issues related to the evaluation process and appealed to the independent review body (IRB). The IRB asked the ministry to cancel the contract and to re-tender the work again.

One of the contractors, in his appeal letter said that the evaluation team has not been fair and seemed not to have followed the normal procedures of awarding points as per the procurement rules.

While most of the e-tools used in the evaluation process remained the same from that of the first tender, the requirement for major components were intentionally changed, the appeal letter stated.

The earlier bid document had assigned five points for steel shuttering while the re-tendered bid increased this to 20 points, with decrease in steel shuttering plate.

Druk Chapchab Construction’s CEO, Sonam Tobgay, in his letter to IRB stated that requirement of concrete pump and batching plant is found of utmost importance to accelerate the job since the proposed construction will be one of the iconic RCC buildings in Thimphu. “However, the earlier bid document which assigned 20 points is brought down to 15,” the letter stated.

It was also stated that the earlier bid document had many types of equipment, which would easily fetch points for the company but were removed in the re-tendered bid.

The response letter from the team leader of the project, Gyembo, from the health infrastructure and development division denied the allegations. “Your allegation of meticulously changing the requirement of equipment deserve no merit,” it stated. He said that the requirement was reduced to fast track the evaluation process. Gyembo has also mentioned the criteria on how and why Druk Chapchab Construction was not awarded the work.

However, another contractor has also approached the IRB for clarification, which was found valid.

Dr Ugen Dophu said that one contractor, T. KunzOm Construction was given no points for equipment and was eliminated despite submitting all the documents. The evaluation team overlooked the documents of one contractor and of the nine bidders, six were disqualified.

“IRB pointed out that there is no corrupt intent but certain documents have been overlooked and asked for a re-tender,” he said.

The health secretary said it is difficult to achieve the deadline because after the pre-bid meeting, the ministry has to give at least a month’s time to the contractors to prepare their bid. This, he said is to give equal opportunity.

He said that construction of a hospital is not like other construction because building is just one component and other accessories like heating system and nurse call system among others require external expertise.

The work is expected to begin from July this year.

Tshering Dorji